Eight years after he staged the alien invasion of a South London council estate in Attack the Block, Joe Cornish returns with his second feature, a sweet-natured action-adventure film that sees the filmmaker switch from sci-fi to epic fantasy. The Kid Who Would Be King follows 12-year old Alex, who pulls the sword from the stone and unites a ragtag bunch of schoolkids around a round fold-out kitchen table. With the help of Merlin in teenage form, they’ll embark on an Arthurian quest to defeat Morgana, an evil enchantress whose powers have regenerated due to the escalating hatred and negativity humankind has recently conjured. She plans to resurface in a “lost and leaderless” Britain *cough* and make the most of a country filled with those who “only fight for themselves” *cough*.
Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of Andy) and Angus Imrie are both standouts as Alex and Merlin respectively, and there are a few amusing cameos peppered throughout. There isn’t an ounce of cynicism or lowbrow dumbness in their performances or in the film as a whole. Cornish is to be applauded for his commitment to creating a fundamentally good-natured adventure film aimed at a much younger audience than his previous film, but this could have been royally great had there been a little more sass and edge to it. It also lacks the energy of Attack the Block, chiefly due to its unnecessarily padded two-hour runtime. Still, it’s a suitably charming bit of fun whose barebones allegory often invites some timely (but mostly circumstantial) jabs at Britain’s current sad state of affairs.
The Kid Who Would Be King | Directed by Joe Cornish (UK, 2019), with Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Angus Imrie, Rebecca Fergusson. Starts April 18.
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